How to boost your calorie burn when running

No-nonsense tips to help you boost the burn

It’s a burning question, both in a literal and metaphorical sense. Running is undoubtedly one of the best activities for melting excess calories. However, modern lifestyle, where it’s easy to grab high-calorie processed foods when you’re sitting at a desk all day can, if you’re not careful, counteract the effects of training. So, how can you boost your calorie burn when running? Here are some no-nonsense, fad-free tips to help boost your burn.

The need for speed

High intensity training, such as interval work is a great way to boost your fitness. However it’s also an effective way to help you lose weight too. You burn calories at a higher rate during high intensity exercise than during moderate or low intensity exercise, which is not exactly rocket science. However your body’s rate of oxygen consumption and therefore your metabolic rate, remains elevated for some time after exercise to enable the body to return to homeostasis. Your heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature, blood lactate, glycogen and hormone levels all need to be restored to normal levels, requiring additional energy. This means that after harder workouts you will burn more calories than you would normally at rest.

Run hilly

If you’re looking to boost your calorie burn then hitting some hills during some of your runs could be the answer. Running uphill increases your heart rate and therefore energy expenditure without the additional impact and stress that is placed through your legs when running faster on the flat.

Layer up

It may seem an ‘old-school’ approach but wearing additional clothing during your runs could help you to torch more calories. Energy expenditure is closely linked to heart rate. Therefore by wearing more clothes than you need your body will need to work harder to regulate temperature, thus increasing your heart rate and therefore calorie burn.

Fuel with carbs

Runners generally require a special approach to weight loss. For example, low-carbohydrate diets are an effective and fashionable weight loss strategy for non-athletes but for endurance athletes they are a recipe for disaster because they starve the muscles of the primary fuel they need for endurance performance. Carbohydrate availability is essential if you want to train at a higher intensity and elicit the calorie burning benefits that this brings. Without adequate carbs you will most likely feel tired and sluggish and will be unable to run at the higher intensities that will promote gains in fitness and weight loss. The trick is to time your intake correctly to ensure that you have adequate carbohydrate availability before higher intensity sessions and less prior to periods where you are inactive.

Pump some iron

Strength and conditioning work has many benefits for runners; helping to prevent injury and improve running form and economy. However strength work can also help to promote weight loss too. Weight training or resistance work increases the percentage of your body’s mass that is muscle. Lean muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat, so with a little more muscle you burn more calories whilst at rest. You’ll also be able to elicit the after-burn effect after pumping iron thanks to increased post-exercise oxygen consumption.


Written by Louise Damen

Louise is a two-time England Cross Country Champion and a former European XC Trials winner. She has also represented GB at various international events and her marathon PB is 2:30:00.

Comments (2)

  • Simo429 'Low carb is a recipe for disaster? What a load of rubbish, you know whats a recipe for disaster chugging down energy gels and getting diabetes. '

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  • Michael56srw 'As a metabolic physician I feel the article is clear and well balanced. Adequate carbohydrate is needed to fuel muscles. The comment about energy gels causing diabetes is not accurate..obviously overall excess carbohydrate can lead to obesity. Adequate amounts pre exercise are needed to replenish muscle glycogen and replenishment during endurance activities are needed as well as training to metabolise fats. Gels not needed for anything under 10k'

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